So, as yam-eating goats go in Nigeria – if I may use one of Ebele Jonathan’s analogies – Bukola is a very tricky goat to catch. This is a goat with many disappearing acts up his sleeve. This is a goat with connections internationally, who was pictured brokering a meeting between Tony Blair and our then candidate Muhammadu Buhari. The Sarakis are very British, and it could be seen from the list of assets under contention at CCB, that they are in too deep with the Brits, having acquired too many assets there over decades.
Nigeria’s politicians have done their homework. They know the people whom they rule. They are aware that these people love a long-winding soap opera – oftentimes leading to nowhere. The middle-class or rich ones stay glued to the TVs, to what they call ‘Series’; one of the most famous of which is “Game of Thrones”. The lesser privileged stay tuned all day, all night to all sorts of half-brain tosh churned out by Nollywood, the almost-talentless enterprise which we tout to be the next best thing since Hollywood.
I find it apt to describe the ongoing ordeal of Dr. Bukola Saraki, called Bukky, or Boda Bukky by those who know him (I don’t), as another episode in the Game of Thrones; only that this time, this is Nigeria’s idea of struggles among dynasties playing out. The similarity to the original historical series bears from the fact that dynasties are always on the prowl, displacing one another. Saraki as a name, represents a dynasty. And I aver, that what is going on is not a corruption probe, but a show of power; a struggle between dynasties. I will explain.
First of all, like the case of Al Capone, whom the FBI could not pin down for crimes of bootlegging, gangsterism, racketeering or murder in the prohibition days of the USA, Saraki is being brought in on counts of false asset declaration! This is ridiculous in the first place, because it is the lightest of offences that any corrupt public officer could be charged with, and if we are serious about stealing, which is also corruption in this country, we shouldn’t be talking about assets declaration semantics. Asides, this is fraught with holes. Check this; the Code of Conduct Bureau (CCB) went and dug up records of 2003 to indict Saraki in 2015, thereby indicting itself as another hopeless Nigerian institution, and casting the present administration in the light of vindictiveness. Besides this, I hear that the biggest bullet in CCB’s arsenal is that Bukola declared in 2003 that he owned assets which he did not in fact own until 2006.
A roadside lawyer, walking up and down Igbosere Street in Lagos Island will readily deflate that balloon. Saraki couldn’t have imagined Obasanjo’s policies in 2006. The years 1999 to 2003 are looking like the age of innocence from where we stand today. So it must be that CCB has its records muddied up. Like Garba Shehu would usually say, I too can ‘bet my last kobo’ that this ongoing Saraki drama will fizzle out, much to the disappointment of excitable Nigerians. Even Lugard remarked about our excitability, which is also borne out in our love for religion and magic; most of it deceptive and false.
Then, I ask, if we want to catch a thief, is it wiser, in the midst of a million thieves, to go for a thief who is also the son of a billionaire and can ‘explain’ his riches away as ‘gifts from my father’? Nigeria is flush with people who had nothing, inherited nothing, did nothing but are today sitting on billions and corrupting society. Many of them could be found in or out of the Nigerian public sector. Mere civil servants who own 100 or 200 houses. A man who was a permanent secretary in the service recently opened a hotel in Abuja which rivals the Hilton. They say he owns over 500 houses in Abuja. I recently made enquiries about land acquisition in Abuja, and was told, with pride, that all I have to do is go to AGIS, where the staff had allocated all the land in Abuja to themselves and were not selling at between N20million or N50million a pop. This is meant to be an improvement over past practices, and is credited to El Rufai.
As I was concluding this, I read on Facebook a story by one organisation called CUPS, wherein they alleged that Senator Bala Ibn Na’Allah was a drug-pusher. But that is not what interested me. It was the statement that Bala was a staff of NDLEA! Oh my God! Was it not the same person who sold a private jet to the former Governor of Taraba, with which that one almost killed himself? How did a staff of NDLEA come about owning a private jet? I heard he bought another newer one after, and that he has a few.
We leave all these people and decide to pursue Saraki. Even within the Senate, we have people like my friend Dino, who regularly loves to display his wealth, but whom we know to be an upstart from a few years ago. We go for Saraki, and whip up people’s emotions, for a guy whose father was a kingpin, call him a mafia don. The older – now dead – Saraki has been grooming Bukola for ‘leadership’ since he was a toddler. I have seen Bukky’s picture with his Dad, at 10 Downing Street, when he was like 10 years old. When ‘Oloye’ – as Olusola Saraki was known – and his family came back to Ilorin to play some Amala politics, it was part of an experiment in crowd-control and Machiavellism. The children listened attentively. Bukky took most of the lesson, a proper A student. And when it was time, like a true, ruthless crown prince, he stared down his father, and the man had no choice but to leave the political stage and die. His father must have been proud of him – even in a death that must have been accelerated by that last stand-down – as someone who learnt fast in the game of power!
How do we hope to pin Bukola down on corruption? He was an Executive Director at Societe Generale Bank of Nigeria (SGBN). He basically ran the bank for his dad. I heard that Oloye would saunter into any market branch and collect any amount of money back in the day. There was nothing like accountability. They ran the bank aground no doubt, but the bank was recently repackaged, resuscitated as Heritage Bank, which has now acquired Enterprise Bank and has over 300 branches all at once. The Saraki dynasty still owns 10% of that bank till tomorrow.
So, as yam-eating goats go in Nigeria – if I may use one of Ebele Jonathan’s analogies – Bukola is a very tricky goat to catch. This is a goat with many disappearing acts up his sleeve. This is a goat with connections internationally, who was pictured brokering a meeting between Tony Blair and our then candidate Muhammadu Buhari. The Sarakis are very British, and it could be seen from the list of assets under contention at CCB, that they are in too deep with the Brits, having acquired too many assets there over decades. I doubt if the British powerbrokers will allow them be thrown under the bus. This is international politics and it’s the dirtiest that can be. What is more, Bukola’s wife is also undergoing her own tribulation. I hear that she is worth over a billion. That is another tricky she-goat. She is Otunba Ojora’s daughter. She was born into money!
Don’t get me wrong anyone. I do not support corruption. But I do not lend my emotions easily. I don’t join rat-packs to hunt down people on a whim. In this Saraki matter, corruption is not the question. The worst – or best depending on which part you belong – that can happen, is for Saraki to lose the Senate Presidency and continue being a senator. Therefore, this is politics. The corruption war hasn’t started yet. We hope it starts soonest.
In all these, the Tinubu Dynasty shows its fangs. Saraki and Tinubu dynasties are at war. What’s in it for the average Nigerian? What share of Oriental, TVC, The Nation, Alpha Beta or any of the numerous assets of the Tinubu dynasty will accrue to us? Is this our fight at all? I really don’t think so; at least not for now. Wake me up when the real war against corruption starts.
Tope Fasua, an economist and consultant, is CEO of Global Analytics Consulting.